Sometimes we long for change in our lives but we just can’t seem to make it happen. And sometimes changes we don’t want are forced upon us. The pandemic alone has dramatically altered many aspects of our lives: work, school, church and home. And we might be surprised at where we’ve landed, either temporarily or for good. But wherever you find yourself right now, God put you there for a reason. He has a purpose for you.
I’d like to share an excerpt from my new Find Joy devotional that tells the story of a woman who desperately wanted a change of circumstances, but ended up with a change of heart. And aren’t those the best kinds of changes—the ones that happen inside? When we find ourselves in what seems to be a hopeless situation, if we persevere—if we allow ourselves to grow—we may discover that meaning and purpose were there for us all along. We blossom. We shine. We find joy.
As we look toward a New Year with many uncertainties still ahead, let’s be intentional about seeking God’s purpose in our lives—wherever we find ourselves. ~
Michaela worked in an inner-city high school, teaching biology to kids who didn’t seem interested. The hours were long and the parents were uninvolved. Michaela found herself discontented, burning out, and on her knees, desperately begging God for a change. Anywhere but here, Lord. Send me somewhere I can make a difference!
Over and over again, she prayed for a job in one of the magnet schools nearby, where kids had hope for a future. She wanted to impact the lives of kids, and those kids wanted to be impacted. But the doors stayed firmly shut. She felt trapped in a job she disliked but couldn’t seem to leave. Depression settled heavily on her heart. One day, as she began to pray, she felt a strong sense that the Lord wanted her to stop talking and listen. And what she felt she heard took her breath away.
Child, I HAVE sent you somewhere you can make a difference. I put you there for a reason. Stay where you are. And bring Me into your school.
Stunned, Michaela accepted the gentle (well, not-so-gentle) rebuke. She thought about how to “bring Me into your school” and decided to start a new routine. She arrived early at school the next day to walk the halls and touch lockers as she prayed for the students. Imagine her surprise when she found other faculty members doing the exact same thing! She had been so insulated, she hadn’t known there was a community of believers within the faculty. Her heart swelled as she stepped into the life and support they offered.
She also decided to actively invest in the school outside just academics. She started staying after hours to attend her students’ games to cheer them on. And theatre performances. And band concerts. Students started noticing that they were important to her, and it started making a difference in the classroom. Her heart swelled even more.
Suddenly, Michaela found herself wanting to take steps that had seemed burdensome before, like reaching out proactively to parents to say how much she enjoyed their children. Quite a few parents began communicating back and becoming involved in their kids’ education. She realized that these families were not uninterested; they simply needed hope. They would invest themselves wherever hope was to be found—and they now clearly saw her extending that hope to their children.
It didn’t take long for this previously low-energy, lackluster teaching job to start feeling positively life-giving to Michaela. The joy of the Lord swelled as she responded to God’s call. And He says the same thing to each of us: I put you there. Find the reason, and you will find joy where you are.
* Excerpts taken from Shaunti’s newest book, Find Joy: A Devotional Journey to Unshakable Wonder in an Uncertain World from iDisciple Publishing.
Are you currently reading Shaunti’s latest devotional, Find Joy? Please leave a book review on Amazon!
And check out her latest book (co-authored with her husband, Jeff), Thriving in Love and Money. Because you need a better relationship, not just a better budget.
This article was first published at Patheos.